NEWORLEANS- The city health department is planning a big clean up. Officials theresay the homeless camps under the Pontchartrain Expressway are against the law and a health hazard, attracting rodents.
So beginning Thursday, no one will be allowed to live under the expressway, though some of the people say they are not leaving.
Signs went up Tuesday telling homeless people living under the expressway that they havethree days to leave the area and move into ashelter. But some say,with time limits at the New Orleans Mission and othershelters, that just won't work.
'After 21 days what they gonna do? For 30 days, you go toOz (Ozanam Inn),it's 10-day. What you gonna do after 10 days? You go to Salvation Army. it'sfive days (limit),' said a homeless man named Rip, who recently lost his job.
'After 21 days, the (New Orleans) Mission, you have to leave and then you only get 10 days and a few days bed request at the Oz (Ozanam Inn).And then, well, they have the Salvation Army and they done raised their prices up to $10 a night, the Salvation Army and since they closed the Brantley, they been a lot of homeless people all over,' said Ricky Breaux, a homeless man who sellscarvings out of soap.
The Health Department Advisory signs didn't last long.
'They hanging them up, they tearing 'em back down not reading 'em. Just getting them out of the way,' said a homeless man named Paul who says he is an alcoholic and has liver disease.
The New Orleans Mission sends residents to clean up and get people intoits shelter. Still some just don't want to go.
'Ithink the highest percentage of our homeless are mentally deficient, clinically speaking, you know, diagnosed.We need city help. We need state help. They're pretty much cast away,' said John Proctor, Director of Operations for The New Orleans Mission.
National statistics show a third of the homeless have untreated mental illness. Half of the homeless have the illness of addiction and 45 percentof the veterans who are homeless have some sort of mental illness or brain disorder such as PTSD.
The lack of in-patient and out-patient mental health treatment isthe other piece of this puzzle that won't be fixed by the Thursday vacate-the-premises deadline.
People who work at shelters say the homeless make as much as $300 a day on the corner from motorists.
They say that enables people to stay on the street. Donating to the shelters instead, helps trained professionalsteach the homeless life skills.